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Best Bike Lights For Night Riding (And Handy Bicycle Lights Guide)

Best Bike Lights For Night Riding

I have a confession.

I’m scared of the dark. I can just about cope when I’m alone in the dark in my own home (although come to think of it, I’m a little concerned about what might be lurking in that darkened corner over there….was that a rustle?!)

Slow…Deep…Breaths.

Yes, I know that, as a (very brave) middle-aged guy, I should have moved beyond this by now. I should be able to watch The Blair Witch Project (unfortunately, I don’t think I ever will). I should be able to investigate that strange noise in the middle of the night equipped with nothing more than my pajamas…and not have to take the baseball bat I have hidden under my bed.

I should even (even!) be able to go out on my bike at night without being terrified that I might meet the local axe murderer (who, I’m told, doesn’t even exist).

Sigh…

There are many reasons to use bike lights when you’re out cycling at night. They should first and foremost help you to BE SEEN by other road users. This is the primary reason for having bike lights and this is the minimum job that they need to do.

Secondly, where appropriate, they should allow you TO SEE what’s on the road or trail in front of you. This is particularly relevant if you’re cycling on unlit roads or night-riding on mountain bike trails (more on both of these in a moment).

Thirdly, for me (and maybe even for you), bike lights are there to scare away the witches, ghosts, axe murderers, and other mythical beings that might otherwise take you by surprise.

So, I love bike lights. But which are the best ones for night riding?

Quick Answer: Victagen USB Rechargeable Bike Light Set

Well, I did some research to see which were the top ones for different bikes across a range of different cycling situations. This is based on a wide variety of criteria and taking account of feedback from actual users. I’ll take you through my findings in a moment.

Make sure you read right through to the end of the article because I’ve also got a useful guide for what to look out for when buying lights, answering questions such as:

  • What bicycle lights do I need?
  • Which bicycle lights are best?
  • Is it illegal to ride a bike without lights?
  • Bike lights USB vs battery?
  • Bike light flashing vs steady?
  • Where to attach bike lights?
  • Best place to buy bike lights?

Click here to go straight to the guide.


Best value bike lights

Let’s head out on the spooky dark trail and take a look around…

When you first start to research bike lights, you’ll see that there is a vast array of different features to choose from. So many, in fact, that it can be tough to know how to begin and how to pick the right ones. We’re going to start off by looking in detail at the best cycling lights that are available on the market today, based on different cycling situations, and what actual users think about them.

Best value for money bike lights

If you’re looking for an excellent starter set of bike lights, then you’d be well worth taking a look at this set from Ascher.

The set includes a front and rear light and is best suited to situations where you need to be seen, but where you don’t need additional lighting to see where you’re going. The best example of this is cycling through a well-lit city center at night.

They’ve got a range of useful features, chiefly the option to change the brightness (from full to half, which will prolong battery life), and also to flashing (fast and slow options). I’ll talk more about this flashing mode later, but I’m a big fan as I think this sort of intermittent lighting works really well at grabbing people’s attention.

The lights come with stretchy silicone mounting straps which can be used to fix the lights onto wherever they’re needed. This might include bike frame sections, in various different diameters, or onto your cycling helmet. Because silicone is such an elastic material, you’ll get a great firm fix for the lights and they won’t slip around as you ride.

One of my favorite features of these lights (and many in this list) is that they’re powered with rechargeable batteries. I’ll discuss this more in a bit, but it’s fantastic because you can just plug the lights into a USB socket between rides and you’ll always have super-bright lights.


Best bike lights under 20

The Gator 390 from Blitzu is a great set of front and rear lights that consistently gets fantastic reviews.
The lights come with handy mounting brackets that you can use to fit them (in a few seconds each) to your bike frame. One aspect that I really appreciate about bike lights like this one is that you can easily detach it from the mounting bracket. Leave the bracket fixed onto your bike and you can use the bike light as a handy torch (for scaring away the witches when you’re off the bike as well).

The front light puts out 390 lumens of light and should run for around 2 hours on full brightness. Both lights have settings to toggle between High brightness / Medium / Low / Flashing and battery life is extended the further right you move along that spectrum.

Front and rear lights have USB rechargeable batteries so you can plug them into any available USB socket for easy charging, such as a wall socket or your laptop. Great if you’re using these for commuting and can top them up at your desk during the workday.


Best bike lights under 30

So, why do I particularly like these bike lights? Well, the truth is I like them because I think they’ve got more than a passing resemblance to Pixar’s Wall-E.

You know, the garbage-gathering robot on a post-apocalyptic Earth that falls in love with the cute (and very exotic) E.V.E. from the starliner, Axiom.

Can you see what I mean?

Movie-star credentials aside, these lights from Victagen are awesome for lots of reasons. We bought a set recently for my son and, after giving them a test ourselves, had to give him some advice to go with them: Don’t Shine Them In Your Sister’s Eyes! These are super-bright lights, the front light clocks in at a maximum output of 2400 lumens, and has a good wide-angle beam. So they’re great for using on those wide unlit country roads where you can see the ghosts and goblins before they get too close to you.

Both lights have varying brightness and flash modes, and the front light is USB chargeable. The rear light takes batteries (2 x CR2032). There is a set of these button batteries included and we haven’t yet had to buy replacements. The lights are waterproof to IP-65 which is another useful feature, especially if you’re likely to be using these in heavy rain showers.


Best bike lights under 50

Jumping up to the next price bracket we get an excellent front bike light from Cygolite. Bear in mind that this is just the front light, for a full set of lights with this front light included, take a look at this.

This front light has a very clever feature that you don’t see on many bike lights – I’ll come to this in a moment.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the features that are common to many lights in this price bracket.
First up, it illuminates the road ahead with a nice bright 600 lumens and has various power modes and flashing modes. Take a look at the reviewer video here and you’ll get an idea of the various light options.

It fits all types of handlebars and you can use it as a handheld torch as well. Like all the lights we’ve looked at so far, this is USB-chargeable (which I think is such a fantastic development in the world of bike lights). Plus it has a low-battery indicator, so you know if you need to charge it up before your cycle.

The bit I’m most excited about is their SteadyPulse feature. Many bike lights have a steady beam option and a flashing beam option. The Cygolite has both of these, and it also has SteadyPulse which combines both.

How does it work? Well, take a look at the main picture and you’ll see that it has a row of 4 LEDs along the top and a larger LED at the bottom. When you engage the SteadyPulse it will put the steady beam on and flash the row of 4 LEDs at the same time. This allows you to have the benefit of both seeing the road in front of you and having the attention-grabbing flashing LEDs on. Very useful indeed.


Best bike lights under 100

As one reviewer says, “There is no situation you will ever encounter that this light’s not bright enough to handle”.

Which says it all really, doesn’t it?

The Bright Eyes 1800 is a set that comprises a massively powerful front light and a free USB-chargeable tail light. The front light gives out 1800 lumens on illumination and will last for 5 hours on maximum beam strength (I don’t think my legs are strong enough to handle a longer bike ride than that!)

This super-brightness and long-lasting illumination are possible because the front light has a separate battery pack (which you can store on your bike with the included Velcro straps). This also means that the light itself is, umm, light (i.e. not heavy) so you can mount it with the enclosed kit either onto your bike helmet or as a head torch for running or walking.

The lights are fully waterproof and there is a helpful LED battery life indicator, so you can see at a glance how much juice you have left. All told this is a great product with a lot of very happy and enthusiastic customers.


Best bike lights for city riding

For city riding, you need a set of bike lights that will ensure that other road users can see you clearly. Unlike cycling on MTB trails or unlit roads, when you’re going along city streets there will generally be plenty of illumination for you to see where you’re going, but sometimes that can make it difficult for drivers to pick you out from the glare.

A set of lights like these from Ascher fits the bill nicely. The headlight and taillight are both bright and eye-catching, with either their steady beam or flashing mode. Plus, the rear light has a very wide field of view, so it will indicate your presence to drivers in side streets as well as directly behind you.

Both lights are USB-chargeable so you can top them up at the office with your laptop, or overnight at home in a wall socket.

Plus, they’re very fast to install – check out the video on Amazon to see how easy this is. So there’s no need to leave them on your bike when it’s parked. Which I always think is just an open invitation to opportunistic thieves. Check 


Best bike lights for touring

There are three key aspects to finding the best bike touring kit: (1) you want gear that does more than one job, (2) that takes up as little room as possible, and (3) makes your life easier (because touring life has plenty of challenges as it is!)

That’s why I love this bike light set from BrightRoad.

Let’s deal with those points above first. The front light is perfect for touring because it can both light the road ahead of you when you’re cycling and also easily detaches from the bike to use as a handheld torch when you’re setting up camp etc. Both the front and rear lights are small (but powerful) and can be fitted onto your bike around your panniers or on your panniers.

Now to the third aspect – do they make your life easier? Absolutely! Both the front and rear lights are USB-chargeable, so there’s no need to go hunting for a store selling the right kind of batteries every time you stop. Take the cable with you and either plug it into a USB wall socket or use an adaptor plug.


Best bike lights for commuters

Bike lights for commuting need to cover quite a few bases: (1) they should be bright to alert bleary drivers to your presence in the morning and jolt them out of their slumber in the evening, (2) they should be USB-chargeable so that you can top them up at the office and back home at night, (3) they should be easy to take off your bike so that you don’t have to leave them during the day when your bike is locked up to the rack outside your office building.

The Gator 390 does all of this and more.

Both lights are super-bright and highly noticeable to other road users so that they will give you a good wide berth as they pass. The lights are also USB-charging – both front and rear, and that’s great because sometimes you find it’s only the front light that is chargeable with the rear taking non-rechargeable batteries.

Taking the lights off and on is really easy and the rear light can be attached to lots of different places with its mounting strap – I’m a big fan of having the tail light high up on either my backpack or helmet to make it more visible.


Best bike lights for unlit roads

When you’re looking for the best bike lights for country roads you want a front light that is super-bright so that you can see the road in front of you, and with a good wide cone of light to allow you to use your peripheral vision as well.

With the Tansoren 4000, you have that in spades.

Here’s a couple of review comments: “Crazy bright” and “Retina burning”, which I think say it all really, don’t they?

This is a front light that fully illuminates the unlit road ahead of you. It also notifies other road users coming towards you of your presence, way in advance of them getting close to you. Take a look at some of the reviewer photos and videos and you can see how bright the light is.

A useful feature of this light is that it can also be used as a head torch. That’s great because sometimes I like to attach a light like this to my bike helmet, so I can see the terrain as I turn my head. A handy thing to be able to do if you’re on a twisty track or road. The lamp has a separate battery pack that you attach to your bike frame or, if you’re using it as a headtorch, then just pop the battery in your pocket.


Best bike lights for road bikes

When you’ve spent lots of money buying a sleek road bike, that is super-aerodynamic, with drop handlebars and all the cabling routed through the frame to lower wind-resistance…the last thing you want to do is slap a chunky great set of bike lights front and rear.

Yes, you might sacrifice some brightness, but what we’re looking for here is a P.B. time. So, we need lights that tell other road users that we’re there, but without acting like a sail on our bikes slowing us down in our pursuit of road-cycling speed glory on Strava.

For that reason, my recommendation is this set of lights from Outair. They’re front and rear lights (white, red, and you can also get a set with an additional blue light) and are USB rechargeable in 2-3 hours, giving a runtime of 4+ hours.

From our perspective, the best bit is that they hug the bike frame closely.

Now you often see rear lights that sit snugly against the seat post, but it’s rare to see a front light that tucks up against the horizontal bar of the handlebars.

The other plus point on these is that blue light that I mentioned a moment ago. Who else uses blue lights on the roads? The police. What do drivers do when they see a blue flashing light on the roads? They slow right down… Which is exactly what we need them to do as well.


Best bike lights for aero bars

The challenge with adding front lights to aero handlebars (like these) is that the wide horizontal part of the bars, next to the stem, tends to be flat and very wide. It can, therefore, be difficult to mount a standard light as they’re generally designed for ‘standard’ tubular bars.

Luckily, I’ve found a great option for you, the Lezyne 600XL, along with a demo from the light manufacturer. What could be better?

Take a look at this guide from Lezyne’s Tech Support team to see how easy it is to fit their 600XL front light on to very wide aero bars.

The 600XL (as the name suggests) gives out a great 600 lumens of brightness to light up the road in front of you. Both lights are also USB-rechargeable and weigh-in at less than 150 grams / 5 oz for the pair. Skip a candy bar on your next rest stop and you won’t feel the weight difference at all.


Bike lights in wheels

When I first saw these lights, I knew I had to have them.

MonkeyLectric have come up with something completely awesome with their full-color spoke lights.

They’re super-bright and USB-chargeable – tick. Rugged, waterproof, and ice proof to see you through the worst of weathers – big tick.

But the biggest tick of all goes to the 42 built-in display themes and the 16 dazzling colors that create the most amazing displays you can imagine.

As a kid, I used to have a little light that attached to one of my bike spokes. It worked for about two seconds before going out and, even when it was fully glowing, it was hardly the brightest. Imagine holding a candle up next to the sun and you’ll get the general comparison. These Monkey Lights are in a whole different league!

The hard bit is choosing which of the themes you’re going to set today. For me, it would always be the Flames. Or maybe the Space Invaders. Or…or… maybe it would be the Rockets. Aargh! Too much choice.

Luckily there’s also a setting where the lights will cycle through all the themes in a loop. Phew.


Best bike tail lights

When we’re thinking about bike lights it’s often the front light that gets most of the attention.

This is partly justified because, after all, we tend to go forwards on our bikes so a light that illuminates the road in front of us is fairly critical.

But if we just focus on the front light we’re missing an important bit of kit – the back light.

When you’re cycling on roads, having a bright tail light is very important because it’s going to let road users who are approaching from behind know that you’re there. You might not even be aware of them, so the light can keep you safe.

This rear light from Meilan is a cracker. Described by reviewers as a cross between something from Star Wars and Tron, this light has a number of tricks up its sleeve.

Attach the light to your bike and the remote control to your handlebars and you’re good-to-go. When you brake the light will sense this and illuminate the brake light. Use the indicators to let drivers know which way you’re going to turn – the strobe is fantastic and reminded me of KITT from Knight Rider 😉

The best bit for me was when I saw the Laser button on the remote control.

Now, at first, I thought this might be a device to take out road-rage drivers who tried to overtake me too closely. Sadly not, but what it actually does is just as cool. Press the button and you’ll see two laser lines appear on either side of your bike and extending backward. These are a great reminder to drivers to give you a wide berth when passing.



Bicycle lights guide

When you’re asking, “What bicycle lights do I need?” then it’s important to consider the type of bike you’re riding and the type of riding that you’re doing. We’ve already seen which bicycle lights are best for some specific types of bikes. Now let’s look at some other aspects of bike lights.

Just click on the ‘+’ to open up each section.

What bicycle lights do I need?
The recommendation is that you need sufficient lighting to be seen by other road users, and allow you to see the road or path in front of you. In practice, this means having a good quality front light and rear light.

I also like to use a light attached to my bike helmet. There’s a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, it allows me to see where I turn my head, not just the direction in which my handlebars are pointing. Useful on windy roads, or if you’re going full speed down a mountain bike trail. Helmet lights are also useful for crowded roads at night time when a light placed lower down might not be noticed.

Which bicycle lights are best?
The bike lights that are best depend on the type of bike that you have (such as mountain bike vs road bike), the type of riding that you do (occasional use at dusk with street lights vs pitch-black MTB riding), and the amount of traffic.

As a rule of thumb, the less lighting there is, and the faster you’re going, and the higher amount of other road users there are, then you will need more, brighter bike lighting.

Is it illegal to ride a bike without lights?
It depends! Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this. Some places say you need lights, some places say you need lots of lights, some places don’t mention it at all. My advice is to carry more lighting than you think you’ll need. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Remember that if you have bike lights, but the batteries have run out of juice, then it’s the same as riding your bike without lights. Make sure you top up rechargeable batteries before you head out cycling. If your lights use non-rechargeable batteries, then make sure you carry a spare set with you at all times.

Bike lights USB vs battery?
When I cycled as a kid, I remember having bike lights that used the most massive batteries. These lights didn’t give out much illumination, even with fresh batteries, and anyway, the batteries never seemed to last long before the not-very-bright glow gave up and you were left in the dark.

Fast forward a few years (quite a few) and we now have bike lights with Li-ion batteries that charge up with a standard USB cable. Not only is that much more convenient than trekking down to the store every couple of days for a new set of batteries but they also last much longer. Add in the LEDs that most bike lights now use and you’ve got a great combo of bright lights that last a long time. The holy grail.

So, my advice is to look for bike lights that have USB-chargeable batteries wherever possible. This is particularly relevant for front lights, which use up the most power, but if you see a full set of USB-chargeable lights – grab them!

USB-charging is also great if you’re going bike touring. It’s often easier to find a plug socket than it is to find a store selling just the right kind of batteries for your lights.

Bike light flashing vs steady?
I really like blinking lights for bikes. In my experience, it’s lights that flash that get the attention of other road users and that’s what we really want them for when we’re looking to be seen. Many lights, front and rear, have the option to change from a steady beam to flashing at the touch of a button.

If you need to light up the road or trail ahead of you, then you have a couple of options. You can either buy two lights – a powerful one to light the way and a smaller flashing one to alert the traffic. Or you can buy a light that combines both of these functions in one. The Cygolite light above with its SteadyPulse feature is a great example.

Where to attach bike lights?
Bike lights are normally attached to (1) the handlebars (a white light just left or right of the central stem) and (2) the seat post or seat stays (a red light).

I also like to attach additional lights to myself, often a red light on my backpack.
Plus, lighting on my bike helmet, which can either be:

  • Another white light on the front if I’m mountain biking and need to illuminate a twisty trail, and/or
  • Another red light on the rear to let other road users know I’m there if they can’t see the lower-down tail light
Best place to buy bike lights?
If you’ve got a good local bike store then pop over and get your lights from them. In my experience, they’re always willing to give advice and have good local knowledge.

Sadly, there are fewer and fewer bike stores these days. If you live in an area without a bike store, then I’d recommend getting a set of lights from Amazon or another online retailer. They will have a wide selection and you’ll be able to see reviews of each lights set from actual users – a great help in choosing the perfect lights for your bike.


Which bike lights to buy?

Choosing the correct bicycle lights can be incredibly confusing as there are so many different options and choices available. Different numbers of ‘lumens’, USB-charging or battery-operated, ones that fit on your bike and others that strap onto your bike helmet, and even funky ones that fit onto your wheels. But it’s really important to get the right bike lights so that you can be seen, and see, when you’re out cycling.

As cyclists, we’re often angry about not being treated with sufficient courtesy by other road users. Whilst that may be true, it’s up to us to do our bit as well by using the correct safety equipment, including bike lights, so that we make drivers aware of us in enough time so that they can give us space on the roads.

I hope that this article has been of use to you in picking the right lights and answering your questions about everything to do with these essential bicycle visibility products.

Happy night cycling!


Best bike lights under 30
So, what’s the reason that I especially love these bike lights? Well, it’s because I reckon they’re a look-a-like to Pixar’s Wall-E. You know, that garbage-collecting little robot on a future Earth that falls head-over-heels in love with the cute EVE robot from the Axiom starship. Do you see what I mean?

That aside, these are awesome for loads of reasons. We got a set recently for my son. After testing them ourselves, we had to dish out some advice to him to go with them: Please Don’t Shine These In Your Sister’s Eyes!
They are incredibly bright, the front one has a max output of 2400 lumens, and good wide-angle beam span. So, they’re ideal for those wide unlit backcountry roads where you can spot the ghouls and hobgoblins before they get too close to you.

Both of the lights have varying levels of brightness and flashing modes. The front light is also USB chargeable. The rear light takes batteries (2 x CR2032), which are readily available in stores. A set of these batteries is included and we haven’t had to buy replacements yet. The lights are IP-65 waterproof which is another great feature, particularly if you’re likely to be out cycling in heavy rain.

**Please note that our reviews are based on customer reviews, star ratings, and online complaints. Therefore, Bicycle Volt are in no way liable**

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Loves biking and home brew. Not together, but probably in that order.

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